The Yokohama Theatre Group Ensemble
Director: Andrew Woolner Scenic Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Costume Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Puppet Design: Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn Lighting Design: Jeremy Plant Sound Design: Chloe Kwok
Budget for this Design Area
Comments by the Designer
The Outliers is a devised play which premiered at the Tokaido Arts Festival in Kawasaki, Japan. In the summer of 2017 I was the recipient of the Erik Ulfers/Margaret Hall Scholarship and the Stanley Graduate Award for International Research to serve as the production designer for the Yokohama Theatre Group, an English-language experimental theatre troupe operating in the Tokyo metro area which produces devised and original works for a multicultural audience. The Outliers is a series of vignettes performed as if they were campfire stories. These stories are derived from a varied of sources, including Norwegian folklore, Greek mythology and original short stories. The performers in our meta-theatrical event take turns passing around flashlights and assuming the role of narrator.
As the production designer, I was responsible for the design and creation of all costume, scenic and puppet elements of The Outliers. In order to unify all of the design elements under the constraint of performing in a street festival environment, I implemented a trash-art aesthetic which played into the tone of the opening of the piece, where a group of kids gather around an old rubber tire turned fire pit to swap stories about the world “before”. The world of the play is set in an uncertain land in an indeterminate number of years into the future, where the daily technology of our lives like cell phones seem foreign, relics of a long-forgotten past. The scenic elements were made to be movable pillars which could be rotated to either provide a clean white surface, or flipped to reveal a trash sculpture busting at the seams with discarded electronics and visages of the past.
The costume design for The Outliers was in direct conversation with the scenic elements and the meta-theatrical narrative of the production. Characters were dressed as performers in a base costume which was grunge-inspired but neutral enough to serve the actors who were required to flip between different roles within vignettes. Characters for individual stories were created by the addition of a rigged costume pieces hidden on the set that went on top of base costumes. These pieces were simple and inspired by children’s theatre which is simple, yet exaggerated.
Another key element to the design of The Outliers was the implementation of puppets for the mythological or inhuman characters of the show. Most notably, I created and crafted a large cardboard puppet to represent Fenrir, a monstrous wolf in Norse mythology. The wolf puppet was constructed with a moveable jaw that could be manipulated by a single puppeteer. There were also several smaller hand puppets, such as the spiders which would occasionally scuttle across the stage and along set pieces.
Designing The Outliers was an exercise in maintaining continuity across all design elements to support a specific aesthetic style—in this case, what the world would look like as a trash and found-object installation . Overall, my design used a trash-art aesthetic in order to create a visual vocabulary which could be translated to costume, scenic and puppet elements. The total production budget was just under $1000 for sets, costumes, puppets, and lights. Of this budget, less than $300 went to building the set and $500 went to costumes and puppets.
Copyright 2017 Lindsey LaRissa Kuhn